A good number of industrialists from Gulf nations,Malaysia and Singapore have evinced interest in starting industries in Puducherry as it is a 'safe haven' for them,as also tourists, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy said. He stated this today while declaring open a three-day food festival, conducted by the Pondicherry Heritage Round Table 167 (PHRT 167). "Very soon there will be a buzz in industrial activities and the tourism sector," he said. The Chief Minister said the Round Table had launched an important initiative as food festivals would attract tourists to Puducherry. The government had already launched several schemes to ensure increase in tourist inflow, he said. Narayanasamy said around 15 lakh tourists had visited the union territory in the 2016-17 fiscal. "We are keen that the tourists flow should increase to 20 lakh in the current fiscal", he said, adding that the peaceful ambiance, existence of heritage buildings and the French connection Puducherry had were among important features to lure tourists. Stating that the Tourism Ministry had already recognised Puducherry's importance in tourism development, he said the Centre had sanctioned Rs 108 crore to conserve heritage buildings, promote pilgrim tourism, conserve the structures of places of worship of all religions and also to ensure that the unique features of Puducherry are maintained. The Chief Minister said a Rs 20 crore project was being implemented to lay roads in coastal pockets to link the town with the Kuruskuppam and other coastal stretches. Narayanasamy said the SMART city project sanctioned for Puducherry involving Rs 1,850 crore outlay and which included French government aid, would help augment Puducherry's image. Puducherry was a former French colony for more than two centuries and became free in 1954 de facto. Narayanasamy said that the French government owned Financial Corporation in Paris had also agreed to provide Rs 1,400 crore to Puducherry as soft loan to augment drinking water supply and for underground drainage in all four regions of Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam. Health and Tourism Minister Malladi Krishna Rao and the local legislator A Anbalagan were among those present. PHRT 167 Chairman N Venkataramani said the Puducherry government was playing a pro-active role to ensure expeditious implementation of the PHRT 167`s social welfare projects. The Chief Minister later went round some of the stalls and appreciated the initiative to hold the festival.